At the beginning af 2016 there was much to look forward to. How wrong I was! Certainly in the real world. As for the horror movies? Well here I’m having a look back at the films I was looking forward to last year. How did they all turn out? Let’s have a look shall we?
The Forest – 26th February 2016
I SAID: Okay I take that back, there isn’t much hope for The Forest as it is already out in America and everyone hated it. On the positive side it has Natalie Dormer playing twins, a forest where people go to kill themselves and it’s set in Japan: Twins, suicide, Japan – three things I’m fascinated by. Let’s give it a go eh?
AND? It had it’s moments certainly and wasn’t the disaster that many of the reviews said but it relied to much on weak jump scares and didn’t build much atmosphere or genuine scares which shouldn’t have been too hard considering the premise and setting. I get the feeling the real mood of the piece was lost in the edit sadly. Dormer did her best though.
The Boy – 19th February 2016
I SAID: The trailer for The Boy was freaking the shit out of people a few weeks ago. I’m not so sure, I’ve been around enough devil dolls, haunted toys and living dummies to be more than a little jaded by the whole thing. On the one hand it stars The Walking Dead‘s delightful Lauren Cohan who hopefully will get to show some more range other than just crying and stabbing zombies in the brain. On the other hand it’s directed by the guy who made The Devil Inside which still makes the blood boil of anyone who has watched it – go to YouTube to find out what happens next!?!?!? YouTube!??!!!!!!!!!
AND? Goofy stuff and not scary at all, but it was also a lot of fun and fun is not a bad at all in horror. It kept me guessing until quite near the end and Cohan knocked it out the park, as they say across the pond.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – 11th February 2016
I SAID: Weirdly this is the first of two zombie movies starring Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith out this year. This has been trying to go before the cameras for a few years now, they struggled a lot trying to sign a decent cast, but now with Lily James they’ve got someone high profile enough that it should prove to be at least a minor hit. I have no idea if it’s going to be any good though, the trailer was exactly what you’d expect of it – all frocks, dancing and shooting the undead in slow motion.
AND? Okay well its on Netflix now, which is where it probably deserves to be. May and I started watching it and its not as bad as I thought but, as can often be the way with Netflix, I found something better to do. I’ll update when I do watch it.
The Witch – 11th March 2016
I SAID: Already touted as the one to beat, this looks like it could be a future classic, although they said that about The Babadook and they, whoever they are, were wrong. Mind, they also said it about It Follows and then they were right. So don’t trust them, let’s just go watch the film and make our own minds up.
AND? Yep, its a classic. Loved it.
The Green Inferno – 12th February 2016
I SAID: Here we are three years after it was finished, two years after it was shown in festivals and several months after it can out in the U.S. of A. and Eli Roth’s cannibal munch down still isn’t out over here. Some may say it’s not worth the wait and they may be right, although I do think Roth’s films get a bad wrap because he is allegedly a mind boggingly rude person. However I don’t know the guy and just like his films, plus there just aren’t enough cannibal movies kicking around nowadays so I’m queuing up with some spare ribs and bag of intestines whatever the case.
AND? Urgh. It was annoying. Well mainly the characters were annoying. I didn’t want them to be eaten alive by cannibals, I just wanted them to stop talking and go away. I guess eaten alive by cannibals was the next best thing. Not that there was enough gore which surprised me considering it was Roth directing. Also a weirdly snarky undertone about students who are trying to help those who can’t help themselves left a nasty taste in my mouth. And not of the human flesh variety.
Bone Tomahawk – 19th February 2016
I SAID? Talking of cannibals, you wait for one and… but this is in the very small sub genre of the horror western. In fact its really in the even more obscure sub genre of the cannibal horror western which I think is populated with like three movies. More importantly its got Kurt Fucking Russell on a horse with a massive moustache… sold!
AND? Yes! Another good one. My friend Paul pointed out that the first hour was too slow and the cave set at the end looked like cardboard. I’ll give him the latter but the first hour was, for me, a great way to build up the characters and make us care for them… before it all goes horribly wrong.
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Ghost – 17th June 2016
I SAID: Well here we are, the sequel to one of the biggest horror hits in years and they’ve relocated to the glamour of Enfield in North London, in the 1970s. That alone makes me shiver. That must have been fun for the cast. Anyway, the story itself is pretty well known and might not break any new grounds but then you could have said the same about the first film. The story is almost besides the point, what will make The Conjuring 2 good or not will be the quality of James Wan’s direction and the commitment of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren. Wan said he was done doing haunted house movies after Insidious 2 but maybe the experience of the last Fast and Furious film has stoked up his horror side again. The least we can hope for are some quality frights even if the film ends up being a retread of the last one. I hope not though.
AND? It was as good as one could hope for – ie really good. The Warren’s still ping off screen and Wan’s direction is faultless. Only The Crooked Man, a rather out of sorts CG character didn’t work. Also I weirdly loved the Enfield setting.
31 – TBC
I SAID: Say what you want about Rob Zombie but you’ve got to admire his dedication to the genre. Here a bunch of carnival workers are kidnapped by evil clowns and forced to survive some crazed game for twelve hours. You know this is going to be incredibly violent and most likely a bit upsetting. But it’s also going to unlike any other film makers work and that is a good thing. After this I think it’s time for Rob to sell out and make a zombie movie: Rob Zombie’s Zombies just works.
AND? Really sorry to say this but I found 31 completely unwatchable. Maybe it got better after the first half but I’ll never know, I stopped it and I won’t be going back. Ugly characters screaming at the screen, and that was the heroes. There was a nazi dwarf in it, he got on my nerves almost as much as the rest of them.
Visions – TBC
I SAID: Hmmm… Well Visions could be really good or it could be really ball sucky, it all comes down to two things – are the visions of the title super frikken scary and when the visions are finally revealed for what they are, will they blow our minds or will we chuck a half chewed hot dog at the screen? The trailer doesn’t give much away other than seeming to be a bog standard pregnant woman freaked out in a new town plot but Isla Fisher is an interesting choice as the lead and Jim Parsons plays a doctor. No not this one you fools, the other one!
AND? Its on Netflix, I’ll let you know.
The Neon Demon – TBC
I SAID: A cross between Valley of the Dolls and Starry Eyes, this could go any way. However, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (of Drive) it will at least be beautiful to look at and sound great. Add in Jenna Malone, Elle Fanning, Christine Hendricks and Keanu Reeves and it could be bloody brilliant.
AND? A beautiful struggle. I’m half way through it, and don’t want to give a judgement until I’ve watched it all. I’ll have to start again when its not midnight and haven’t had too much wine…
Leatherface – TBC
I SAID: A prequel (sigh) about Leatherface’s teenage years is a TERRIBLE idea. It’s really awful, I mean they tried it with Hannibal Lector and everybody hated that, even the author, and he wrote it. I don’t see how this is going to work at all apart from its directed by the team who made Inside and the weird and wonderful French vampire movie (sorta) Livid a few years ago, so I’m still going to see it. I’m sad it’s not in 3D though, I want more chainsaws coming out of the screen type action. Oh well…
AND? Well apparently Leatherface is in the can but where is the release date? Who knows. Maybe they realised that the idea for a young Leatherface was never going to work and they’re desperately trying to polish the turd as we speak. I suspect it will slip out in some dreadfully quiet weekend eventually and be forgotten instantly.
Martyrs – TBC
I SAID: More horror with a French flavour, the original Martyrs is a hands down classic and a gut-wrenching cinematic marvel to boot. I don’t know if a remake can add anything to the story without undermining it but it’s coming whether you like it or not. And worryingly at least the marketing team behind the film, if not the makers themselves, don’t seem to understand what they have here as the trailer gives away the main plot. What worked so well with the original was how you really had no idea where the story was going.
AND? Well the reviews have been shocking and I although I like to make up my own mind, sometimes life is just too short. Who really wants to watch a remake of a film that, although amazing, was a one-watch movie in the first place?
Patient Zero – 2nd September 2016
I SAID: The second Matt Smith zombie movie of 2016 and I can’t say anything about it as I’ve just finished working on it and I don’t want to get fired. Oh I’ve just quit. I’m still not saying a word.
AND? This was finished a while back but has been moved around until this year now. It does feel similar to The Girl With All The Gifts but that was terrific. Can Patient Zero be as good?
Jeruzalem – TBC
I SAID: This one looks interesting. It’s a found footage movie but after The Visit I have a little hope about these type of film again. Judging by the poster and the massive red Z in it I figured this was a zombie movie, however the trailer seems to suggest something a bit more biblical which obviously suits the location – a location that looks incredible in the footage by the way. We’ll see how this turns out, hopefully not just the usual ending with the camera hitting the floor as the lead is dragged off to their death.
AND? Okay not seen this yet. Give me a break, there are only so many found footage movies a guy can cope with.
Lights Out – TBC
I SAID: Lights Out was a brilliantly simple and effective (really) short film, above, that popped up a couple of years ago online. Now expanded to feature length with Teresa Palmer and some money who knows if the idea of a creature that haunts a woman when the lights go out can work for an hour and a half but I am going to be there on opening day, or in fact night, to find out.
AND? Yeah it was very likeable. The story was much more focused on a dysfunctional family and mental illness than I thought it would be, and I really appreciated that. Palmer gave a great performance as did Maria Bello as her mother, unhinged and twitchy all the way. However I don’t think the actual conceit of the creature that can only be seen when the lights go out was that well exploited. Sure it was explained and given a backstory – too much of one I think so it lost its mystery. I was hoping for something really clever using light and shadows but we just didn’t get that. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a solid film, I just was hoping for more.
A Man In The Dark – 26th August 2016
I SAID: This is from the director of the remake of Evil Dead so you can already count me in. A blind man who is terrorised by a bunch on teens turns out to be not so helpless after all. Evil Dead‘s Jane Levy is here too.
AND? It became Don’t Breathe and was a very well made horror thriller with some great performances from actors playing characters I couldn’t care less about.
The Girl With All The Gifts – TBC
I SAID: This could also turn out to be one of the years best horrors. Based on Mike Carey’s excellent book, it is yet another zombie movie but this time the emphasis is on a small zombie girl who might hold the key to humanity’s future, at least that’s what her teacher thinks. Yeah, the kid zombies are slightly smarter than the adult zombies so they send them to school. Plus her teacher is Gemma Arterton in her first horror film since Byzantium which she was great in… although what wasn’t she great in? She’s fantastic in everything. Sigh…
AND? Well I might have written that I thought it could be one of the years best but I didn’t honestly think it WOULD be. And yet there it is at the top of my list for 2016.
So there you go. I wonder how things will turn out next year…